Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Wholeness Camino

On Sunday, Rev. Ed Bacon at All Saints Pasadena gave his valedictory Easter sermon, as he prepares next month to retire from our church and move closer to his family in the South. Before getting into the meat of his moving words, we already were prepared to deal with emotions of his impending departure.

Helping each other walk up the Camino towards O'Cebreiro Spain (September 2014)

And yet even with that preparation, he still rocked me. During that sermon, he brought up something that he's mentioned before: the word "healing" and "whole" come from the same root word in English. He gave examples of how one cannot move towards healing and new life, without moving towards wholeness. And one cannot move towards wholeness without healing.

I've been pondering why I was moved and it occurred to me that as my Camino pilgrimage approaches, I've been inadequate in describing the healing component of this walk. I've called it "My Healing Pilgrimage". I describe how during my first Camino de Santiago walk, I was in a deeply self-reflective, discerning mood. I just turned 50, just married, just committed to staying in bunk beds night after night for the first time in decades. And I was wondering my place in the world and what the Holy Spirit was guiding me to do.

So in describing this Healing pilgrimage, I talk about all the people I met who somehow felt the need - somewhere in their lives - for healing. So I wanted this walk to be about them instead of me. I came up with the idea of starting in Lourdes, France (adding an extra 100 miles or so) so that I could bring holy healing waters from the River Pau with me. I wanted to share the waters that Saint Bernadette drank, the waters that have been repeatedly described as miraculous and healing. I would bring and share the waters with those who believed, wanted healing, and welcomed the water.

And that's where I've realized I've been remiss.

I can't heal without working towards healing myself.

I can't help people find wholeness without seeking wholeness as well.

It's not that I did not feel this way. It's a matter of emphasis. It's a matter of intentionality. I just don't mention it enough.

I'm intending to land in Paris on May 13 and head immediately to Chartres. On Fridays, the labyrinth is available for us to walk. There isn't a better metaphor for a pilgrimage, to me, than the labyrinth and starting my journey on that cathedral floor will immediately frame my mind.

On Saturday May 14, I will spend the day in Giverny, where Monet lived and painted his countless waterlilies. Monet is renowned for his use of light to portray nature in all her glory. I will take the train to the nearest town and walk over an hour each way to his home. The house is now a museum but visitors can walk parts of the garden around the pond.

Why Giverny? Many people like me find calm and the healing love of God when looking at art. His waterlilies and gardens have for decades stilled my busy mind. Visiting Chartres and Giverny will, I hope, reset my pace and heart and soul for this pilgrimage.

On Sunday, I will visit the American Cathedral in Paris, the seat of the European diocese of the Episcopal Church. I'll wrap up the day at the Cathedral de Notre Dame. In between, I hope to visit the Père Lachaise cemetery and the Catacombs of Paris. Strange itinerary? Perhaps. What I hope to do is first of all start of my pilgrimage with traditional church services. I include the cemetery and catacombs in between these two liturgical services in order to remind myself of life's one certainty. Death of these mortal bodies is inevitable. Any amount of pilgrimage and healing is meant for the living. We are mandated by Christ to love each other while we still have each other. Death will inevitably bring our earthly journeys to a close so it's imperative that we, while remembering this, make every moment worthy of cherishing.

And then...

I head to Lourdes. I head to Lourdes not to just grab a bottle of waters from the stream.

I spend a couple of nights in Lourdes so that I start my pilgrimage with deep, personal healing. The journey must begin in community with others in need of healing, knowing that we are all there with the same aspirations and dreams and love and hope. Whether it's during the evening vigils, the morning vigils, or traditional services, I will be bathing in the waters of life that heal. And I will immerse myself literally in the waters that heal, in the formal baptistry area and in the stream.

The road to a healing camino can't be done any other way. I can share healing love and living water only as I am taking in that healing love and living water. It's in those relationships, with each other and with God, that find wholeness. It's in those relationships that we can bring wholeness. And, in the humility of seeking healing, we may be able to share healing with others.

So I apologize if I wasn't clear before. This healing pilgrimage is for me as well as for those I love and meet. This pilgrimage is for us.

May your camino and my camino intertwine on the road to wholeness and healing.

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